How to avoid these LinkedIn job scams: Internet Scambusters #693
It's not uncommon to get a LinkedIn contact request from someone you don't know - after all, the group is all about networking.
But making contact via fake profiles is one of the tactics scammers use to offer phony jobs that can turn out to be very costly for their victims.
This week, we'll explain the three key steps you can take to avoid falling victim to these con artists.
Now, here we go...
Scams Behind Bogus LinkedIn Job Offers
When you use the professional social network site LinkedIn, it's easy to be flattered when someone you don't know asks to connect with you.
After all, that's what LinkedIn is all about -- growing your network of business and professional contacts.
Plus, of course, it's perfectly reasonable that someone you don't know might want to link up with you if you seem to share a mutual interest or corporate activity.
And if you're job-hunting, it's the perfect forum to put yourself out there and promote your skills and activities.
Job ads abound and LinkedIn will even send you a regular email listing opportunities in your area of expertise.
But, like any other social network, LinkedIn is also a prime target for scammers, as we noted in an issue back in 2011: Why Scammers Target LinkedIn Users – and How to Stop Them.
Job-related scams in particular on LinkedIn have grabbed the spotlight in recent months, with a new spate of tricks aimed at identity theft, advance fee tricks or malware uploads.
The Federal Trade Commission receives an average of 20,000 complaints about job scams every year, but that may be just the tip of the iceberg, since many victims and potential victims don't file a complaint.
Advance fee scams -- where victims receive a check they have to bank before wiring a portion to a supposed third party -- seem among the most common at the moment.
These range from bogus mystery shopper jobs -- 300 were reported in one year on LinkedIn -- to chauffeuring.
In one recent case, a woman was "hired" to drive a visiting doctor around town. She received a check for $2,350, of which $350 was supposedly her first day's pay, with the balance to be wired to the "doctor" for his car rental. The "doctor" was, of course, the scammer.
As usual with advance fee scams, the victim wired the money before her bank declared the check was a dud and she was left out of pocket for the $2,000 she sent.
Other job-related scams include:
* Phony job-list emails, disguised to look like they came from LinkedIn. Victims who click job links in the message are usually taken to a fake site purporting to be operated by the potential employer, where they're asked for personal information, sometimes including Social Security numbers.
* Job offers from a new LinkedIn contact with the same identity theft scheme in mind.
In this case, the crook has set up a phony profile and spammed potential victims, some of whom accept the contact request.
The job-offer solicitation follows but, as usual, the victim is asked to disclose personal information.
* A similar ruse from a new contact, offering to help you find work -- but for a fee, which goes straight into his pocket. Usually, no work ensues.
How can you avoid these types of scams?
First, as we always warn, you should never pay to find employment (unless you solicited help yourself from a job-hunting expert).
Second, again as we keep telling readers, never wire money to someone you don't know, especially if it's the balance of a check you received as supposed advance payment.
Third, be wary about accepting new contacts.
Of course, you want to build up your network. But before you do, check out the profile of anyone who contacted you and don't be impressed if it includes other people you already know -- they may have been fooled too.
Be wary if profiles contain only scant details of the person who's contacting you, if there are misspellings or poor grammar, or if the person supposedly lives abroad, notably in Africa or the Middle East.
Scammers also frequently pose as bankers and their photo may look familiar (because it has been used in other online scams). Sometimes, crooks don't use a personal photo at all.
Whether the contact is genuine or not, you should never give confidential details to a potential employer until you have thoroughly checked them out, including an online search linking their name to scams.
And if you believe you have a phony in your collection of contacts, you can block them via your LinkedIn account. You should also let LinkedIn know.
LinkedIn also has some useful guidance via its Safety Center. And there's also a specific scam-related page: Recognizing and Reporting Scams.
Alert of the Week
If you have recently been bereaved or know someone who has, watch out for a sneaky trick in which a con artist claims to be from a credit card company.
The crook says he needs to remove the name of the deceased from credit cards the deceased held jointly with the victim. The crook then asks for the card details.
It's a cruel trick perpetrated at the worst possible time.
Instead, if you or another bereaved person want to remove a name from a jointly-held credit card, contact the card company using the number on the back of the card.
That's all for today -- we'll see you next week.
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